In the some good news and bad news department, I've decided to write another Gadfly blog post.
First, I'll get the good news out of the way, I've tentatively finished a rough draft of a non-fiction book about the neurodiversity movement. I've written about all the problems with the movement that I see. It's about 303 double spaced pages in version 12 of wordperfect. I've never been fond of Word and still use wordperfect as my wordprocessing software. It is just under 88,000 words. The working title is Neurotripes: The Other Side of the Neurodiversity Story. Thanks and a tip of the gadfly hat to Jill Escher for giving me the idea of using the word Neurotripes in the title as a parody of Mr. Silberman's tome. I've included the history of neurodiversity and my personal involvement in it; comments on the scientific and legal basis of neurodiversity; the basis for autistics superior skills and what the research really means; the hostile cure debate; the murder card; a recycled albeit improved version of my essay about undiagnosing certain celebrities; the hostile cure debate; the actual neurotripes of Mr. Steve Silberman and other issues. A few of you have already read some of these things on my blog, so if the book is ever published all the info won't be novel to you. I've spent nearly two years off and on writing this rough draft.
Now that I've gotten the good news out of the way I can summarize the bad news in two words; now what?
Well this is a good summary, but I can't really explain all the problems in two words, ergo this blog post. Before I do this I just want to comment that though this book may be worthless and unpublishable at this point, some people don't even understand how hard it is to write a book; even an unpolished first draft of one. Two autistics I know (one from the internet and one I know in real life) told me they wanted to write books and asked me how they could put it on Amazon as I'd done with The Mu Rhythm Bluff. I explained to them since neither of them had written even a word of their planned books, that they should write a book first and then think about this.
But the question remains "now what?" I posted it on Facebook and got some captain obvious responses. Submit it to an agent and write a query letter and I could learn how to do so online. One person who included me in their book said I could email him the manuscript and he would have his publisher read it.
There are a couple of things wrong with this. Sending the 'script to agents and publishes if it is not ready for prime time will only result in rejections without a second chance for redemption. After pointing this out someone suggested get people to read the book before sending it out.
There are not many people I know who would read the book for free and give me valuable editing and feedback. One possible option is the internet writer's workshop, some of whose members critiqued the mu rhythm bluff while I was working on it. However, you have to critique other members things and the process takes about a year. I have only participated in their novel writing workshop, but I think they have a non-fiction workshop as well. This is very possibly an option I will consider.
Other people hire editors. This is a process that can cost $3,000 or more and is not necessarily helpful. I really don't have the funds for this.
I remember sending out my first novel to agents when it was not of publishable quality. I got a positive response from one agent who was interested in reading the first 100 pages. After reading them, she responded that she did not believe that she'd be able to find me a publisher. I don't want to send it out before it's ready for submission but not sure how I would know this.
Self-publishing at some point might be an option. I did this with The Mu Rhythm Bluff but sold less than 200 copies. I got a few impartial positive reviews on Amazon and that was nice. I was very poor at marketing and promoting it (no easy feat with a self-published work), Also, with self-publication it might not necessarily be ready for prime time. But, if a publisher (particularly a major house) wants to publish it, must mean you've done something right. I never would have guessed Neurotribes was of publishable quality, but I was obviously wrong about that.
Another problem is I did a variety of research on various topics for nearly a two year period and some of the stuff is not that fresh in my mind and I'd have to go back and review a lot of the articles and things I'd read to really know a lot of the subject matter thoroughly. Though it's in separate chapters, there is overlap between a variety of topics and therefore some repetition which would turn a reader off.
One of the problems is when I write a first draft, that is usually how I want to write the book and I am not good or flexible about making needed changes. I guess I want people to tell me that I'm a genius and the next Hemingway or something like that, but I know that won't happen. Ironically enough, Charles Bukowski has been quoted as saying most men are born geniuses but die idiots. Perhaps he was talking about me.
I'm also itching to write more short stories and novels, though maybe not as marketable, might be more fun than trying to outwit the cult of neurodiversity. This project has taken me away from more attempts to write fiction for the past two years.
I'm not sure when I will give up on this project or when I would consider submitting to an agent or publisher, but I get tired of having to wait until a work is finished. That is one thing that motivated me to self-publish the mu rhythm bluff.
My fantasy was to write autism-related novels and use my autism as a gimmick to have them published and be commercially successful. To date I failed at that. With changing definitions including people less severely on the spectrum, autistic people who write books (including fiction) are now practically a dime a dozen. No one cared that I was an autistic capable of writing mediocre and unpublishable novels.
However, due to the fact I'm an autistic person who regards this as a bad disability and wants a cure for my affliction, I have received some media attention, including being on an NPR show and being profiled in Newsweek and Los Angeles Magazine publishing an article I wrote about the cure debate. As well as a few lesser exposures. I've received more notoriety for wanting a cure and treatments for a neurological affliction than I have for writing a few books. I wonder if anyone besides me sees the irony in this.
All that said, I wish I could get back to work and get some results, though it may be just easier to ponder the question of "now what?"